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Letters to the Editor

SG?elections are a shameful debacle

Re: Editorial, “Intimidation by any other name smells just as corrupt,” Feb. 28.

If you heard of an election in which the campaigns actually manned the polling stations and gave out food in exchange for votes while the elections officials at least turned a blind eye, if not supported these activities outright, you might think you were reading about a third-world dictatorship style election – or you could be at USF.

The fact that the Harless/Flowers campaign would use these measures to get votes is not as bad as the fact that they were upheld and allowed by the ERC. In any real election held in any place that calls itself a democracy, these procedures would not be tolerated and the election recalled. Any elections official anywhere else would not certify the votes in such an election. I at least hope the Harless/Flowers administration does not run the SG like it ran its campaign on Tuesday and Wednesday. I have worked in state and local elections across Florida and cannot believe that buying votes and intimidating voters is tolerated on this campus. I do not understand how it can be compared to national politicians kissing babies. If the SG candidates were shaking hands and promising students things they couldn’t deliver on, that would be a more acceptable analogy for a national election; but I have never heard of any election in the United States where the party or candidate gave out food after a ballot was filled out or was even within 100 feet of the voting area. Last time I checked, that kind of activity is called bribery and cheating.

USF’s SG elections have gone from something students don’t pay attention to to something students should not pay attention to. It does no good to hold an election if the person who buys off the most students wins.

In the end, if USF doesn’t get a real election and an impeachment of whomever made and approved these rules, I at least hope this administration will fix the system so that future campaigns can’t be as unethical as they were this year.

Nic Zateslo is a junior majoring in political science.

RIAA causing a RUCKUS

Re: Editorial, “Things to remember about the RIAA,” March 3.

It is noteworthy that the 31 lawsuits brought against USF network users by the RIAA come only a few months after USF SG voted to not allow RUCKUS, a music downloading service that has ties with the RIAA, to be brought to campus.

RUCKUS, which offers “Over 2.5 Million tracks of Free Music for college students” (www.ruckus.com), uses Digital Rights Management (or DRM) to restrict the use of their files as well as which computers or mp3 players they can be played on (notably, they are not compatible with Apple products). The key difference between RUCKUS and other legal music downloading services is that RUCKUS offers its music for free. RUCKUS claims to generate all its revenue through banner ads on its Web site and its music player. This may be true right now, but to see the real motivation, look a little deeper.

The representative who pitched RUCKUS’ services to SG stated that they would like to be on every college campus in America. This would mean that a vast majority of college students would be likely to use their free, DRM-crippled music and their partner companies’ mp3 players. The ultimate goal, it seems, is to create a digital music monopoly.

Clearly, RUCKUS’ and the RIAA’s long-term goals favor their profits over a market with choices.

Now, this is not in defense of the USF students or staff members targeted by these lawsuits for illegal behavior. They may have broken the law by illegally downloading copyrighted music. However, the timing of the lawsuits begs for hard questions to be asked.

Are these lawsuits retaliation for not allowing RUCKUS on campus? How many, if any, of the other universities targeted in this round of lawsuits use RUCKUS? Is this a strong-arm tactic to make USF more receptive the next time RUCKUS, C-DIGIX or some other music monopoly-friendly entity comes to us with another sales pitch?

Jake Tremper is a senor majoring in mass communications and is station manager at WBUL 1620 AM.

USF has broken promises to UFF

Re: “Raise debate continues,” by John Calkins, March 2.

Recent press coverage of faculty-administration interactions is an excellent thing for USF, as the University gets to see the inner workings of shared governance. But as these events are covered, and as you read about them, I ask that you keep the context of your University in mind.

Irrespective of your views on unions, United Faculty of Florida is the designated bargaining agent for faculty and staff in the system. When President Genshaft gets a “modest” 6.5 percent raise in base salary plus increased perks, and the Board signals that is both a reward for performance and an act of retention to compensate for a salary that is low compared to in-state peers, it sends a stark message of priorities.

In 2004, and again in the recent drafts of the new strategic plan, President Genshaft and the Board promised to correct salary inequities for faculty as compared to the University of Florida and Flordia State University. That process has not even begun. During this academic year, the administration has put a freeze on retention raises for faculty and staff (that is, raises to adjust inappropriately low salaries) during contract negotiations. Further, USF still hires faculty and staff for below-market wages – including bachelor’s holding office staff starting in the low 20s – despite living in a region where the cost of living is either as high or higher than employees of UF and FSU. Is President Genshaft going to freeze her salary increase for seven or more months, as her administration has done to the faculty and staff? Will she reduce her “modest” 6.5 percent to the maximum 4.5 percent her team has offered faculty and staff? Is she willing to accept a market-correcting salary for herself when she has not fulfilled her promise to do so for faculty and staff? Will she acknowledge that the way the faculty and staff have to fight for these things is actually counter-productive, taking time from our productivity and lowering morale?

I will certainly watch for the answers to these questions in the coming days. I encourage you to do so as well.

Eric Odgaard is an assistant professor of psychology at USF St. Petersburg.